Publication Date: April 20, 2018
This book asks a question that many educators may think, but won’t say out loud: Does compliance with IDEA legislation matter? The author acknowledges that, while compliance with IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) is important, it can also be an administrative burden that detracts from practitioners’ capacity to adequately serve students with disabilities.
Using data collected from three suburban school districts, Voulgarides helps us to understand how compliance with IDEA intersects with decades of evidence of racial inequities in student outcomes. This timely and thought-provoking book unpacks the civil rights history of IDEA, examines the impact of its procedural focus on educational practice, and questions why racial inequities in special education persist despite good intentions by policymakers, educators, and school personnel.
Catherine Kramarczuk Voulgarides is an educational consultant and an assistant professor of special education at Touro College in New York City.
" As a former school principal, I recommend the book as a useful district-level book study for educators and district leaders to examine practices within their districts. In addition, the book is an excellent source in higher education for students in teacher education and principal preparation programs to learn about the limits of IDEA and the complexities of procedural compliance. The book will spark many discussions and hopefully also spark ideas to reduce disproportionality and inequities in special education."
— Teachers College Record
“This important book addresses critical issues related to the education of students with disabilities and makes the case for why new approaches are needed to ensure that the educational needs of all children are met. Insightful and well researched, this book will be an invaluable resource for educators everywhere.”
—Pedro A. Noguera, Distinguished Professor of Education, UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies
“This book provides a necessary discussion of racial/ethnic disproportionality and its intersection with special education policy, particularly forcing us to consider a critical question of IDEA: is it enough? Voulgarides shares an amazing description of how policy, individual actors, political forces, and racial/ethnic dynamics operate within a school district and unintentionally result in racial disparities. This is a necessary read for special education policy champions.”
—Edward Fergus, Temple University
Tentative Table of Contents
What Is Disproportionality?
Technical Remedies for Addressing Disproportionality Through IDEA
The Limits of IDEA to Address Complex Inequities
Examining Compliance and Equity in Everyday Actions
Organization of the Book
Holding Ourselves Accountable for Inequity
Chapter 1. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: Enacting Equal Opportunity Through Procedural Compliance
Civil Rights for Students with Disabilities
Policy Implementation Within Local Contexts
The Limits of IDEA and Compliance
Chapter 2. Educational Opportunity and Racial Inequities in Special Education
Educational Opportunity Gaps and Disproportionality
Disproportionality Is Complex
Chapter 3. The Crucial Role of Educational Leadership
Leading for Equity
Enacting Change for Educational Equity
Chapter 4. Parental "Power" and IDEA
Social Reproduction and Educational Outcomes
Special Education and Opportunity Hoarding
Individual Remedies for Systemic Inequities
Chapter 5. The Logic of Compliance
Civil Rights Intent and Procedural Compliance
Solving Disproportionality Through the Logic of Compliance
The Limits of the Law
Conclusion: Moving Beyond the Compliance Paradigm
Does Compliance Matter in Special Education?
The Boundaries of the Compliance Paradigm
Challenging the Compliance Paradigm
What is the Answer to the Question?
Appendix A: Methodology
Site Selection and Positionality
Appendix B: State Performance Plan Indicators
Appendix C: Interview Protocols
District Staff Interview Protocol
Outside Adults Interview Protocol
About the Author
Below is an excerpt from The Washington Post article written by Valerie Strauss and Catherine Kramarczuk Voulgarides originally published March 20, 2018.
President Trump’s Education Department is on its way to delaying by two years the implementation of an Obama-era rule that is intended to address the disparities in the treatment of students of color with disabilities.
The rule amended regulations that are part of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). John King, the U.S. education secretary in December 2016, said then:
“Children with disabilities are often disproportionately and unfairly suspended and expelled from school and educated in classrooms separate from their peers. Children of color with disabilities are overrepresented within the special education population, and the contrast in how frequently they are disciplined is even starker.”
Current Education Secretary Betsy Devos is not a fan of the rule, and last month, the Education Department published a notice in the Federal Register seeking public comment on a proposal to delay the rule’s implementation, which was supposed to start in the 2018-2019 school year. The notice says the department wants to make this move to ensure the rule’s “effectiveness” can be ensured.
The “Equity in IDEA” rule is just one of a number of Obama-era regulations aimed at protecting the rights of students that the Trump administration has either rolled back or expressed interest in doing so.
In this post, a special education expert explains why delaying the rule — is such a bad idea. It was written by Catherine Kramarczuk Voulgarides, an assistant professor of special education at Touro College in New York City. She has a book coming out in April of 2018 entitled: “Does Compliance Matter in Special Education? IDEA and the Hidden Inequities of Practice.”